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2020 WORLD WATCH LIST #46

RUSSIA

2020 WORLD WATCH LIST RANK: 46
SCORE: 60
LEADER: Vladimir Putin President
POPULATION: 143.8 million
CHRISTIAN POPULATION: 118 million
MAIN RELIGION: Christianity
PERSECUTION LEVEL: High
PERSECUTION SOURCE: Dictatorial Paranoia

In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Central Asia through:
• Literature distribution
• Biblical, children, youth, and vocational training
• Socio-economic development

ABOUT RUSSIA

Christian by statistics
Statistically a majority Christian nation, many believers in Russia have not actually read the Bible nor attend church services. The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is the largest denomination in the country by a large margin. Muslims make up the second biggest religious group and they live mainly in northern Caucasus and the mid-Volga region.

Islamic State and their families
In the Caucasus region, Islamic militants like the Islamic State group are fighting against the Russian army to establish a Muslim emirate. Many ethnic Russians have left the area due to the violence. Churches have seen the number of their members drop. Believers from a Muslim background have to keep their faith a secret to avoid attacks from the radical groups.

The families and communities of converts from Islam are also a source of persecution. If and when discovered, converts would be harassed, threatened, locked up at home, and even beaten in order to make them recant their new faith. Many believers have fled to safe houses over the years and find it hard to return home. Other Christians living there who openly live out their faith or are active in evangelism will also be harassed by the Muslim community.

Unflavored churches
Legislation in Russia is being adapted and restrictions are constantly being made. The government continues to favor the Russian Orthodox Church, at the expense of other religious Christian groups. Registered churches, especially the ROC, are free to worship. Unregistered churches active in evangelism may face obstructions in the form of surveillance and interrogation by the local authorities. Christians can be fined for sharing their faith or speaking about God on social network platforms.

PRAYER POINTS

Please pray:
• For guidance for Russia’s Christians so they may understand and comply with domestic laws while fulfilling God’s mission for the church.
• For Christians from a Muslim background who have had to flee to safe houses. Pray that their needs will be provided for, and that one day they can be reconciled with their families and be able to share the gospel with them.
• That the different Christian denominations will be united in Christ and work together for God’s kingdom.